On September 22, rock ‘n’ roll icon Joan Jett celebrated her 60th birthday, but her age doesn’t define her any more than her gender. The Godmother of Punk started her music career at the age 15 when she co-founded the all-girl group known as the Runaways in a time that punk rock was mostly an all-boys club.
In a 2016 interview with the Toronto Sun, Jett confessed that being a girl in a world of boys “was kind of a blessing in disguise because nobody wanted to sign me, so we wound up owning all our own stuff.” Years later, Jett’s produced plenty of music to own.
After a few struggling albums with the Runaways, the band dissolved, and Jett began working on her solo career. A year later she formed a band called the Blackhearts and started her own record label by the same name.
With her name associated with such hits as “Cherry Bomb”, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Crimson and Clover”, Joan Jett paved the way for female rockers of all generations. Jett’s business resilience can be attributed to more than just her killer vocals and edgy image. Jett began building her legacy by selling albums out of her car and today, while she could be living out a cushy retired rocker existence, she continues to tour.
Today, Jett is still working to shatter the glass ceiling of the punk rock music industry. While punk, hard rock, and heavy metal girl bands exist, few are played on the radio.
As stated by USA Today, “She may be a woman in rock, but Jett has never been one to be boiled down to her X chromosomes in her decades of music… Jett will continue to be celebrated in her 60th birthday month, not for her narrow achievements as a member of her gender but deservedly as a trailblazer in rock.”
That legacy will be shared with the world again with the release of a new documentary honoring Jett’s success as a punk pioneer called “Bad Reputation”. Sharing a title with Jett’s 1981 hit song, the documentary will hit theaters, on-demand, iTunes, and Amazon on September 28.
“Tell me I can’t do something,” her gravelly drawl says in the film, “you know I’m gonna be doing it.”
Watch the documentary’s trailer:
Liked it? Listen to “Fresh Start” by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts! The track will be featured on the upcoming ‘Bad Reputation’ original motion picture soundtrack:
What is your favorite Joan Jett hit? Why do you think female punk, hard rock, and heavy metal artists are still pushed down in the industry? Have you ever had a difficult experience as a woman in a world of men? Join in the discussion.